blown away

October 29, 2012

It is fall already.  The foggy winds are blowing hard.  The stone fruits are about finished.  The California hillsides are dried up golden, and leaves are starting to wither and hit the dirt.

And I must say I don’t feel quite ready!  I personally love fall, but this year I find myself fighting the seasonal change–maybe because late summer was so sweet.  Consequently I am just not living up to my own (high) expectations that I will gracefully transition into WHATEVER: a new season, a new job, a body transition or a mini-life crisis.

I admit I’ve been hiding out in the bathroom a little.  I know it’s reclusive of me, but that is part of the fall transition too.   Let me try and explain.

A friend pointed out to me that I always feel a bit deciduous this time of year.  Certainly I grow tired of gardening (though there is always one last push through the cutting back of the perennials and moving things around before winter and the holidays set in).  Heaving my hoe is slowly giving way to resting on my shovel…it’s almost that time.  Maybe another month and a half to get through before the big rest?  It depends on the rains.

So anyhow, in the evenings, (as I try to escape the sounds of another baseball game) I occasionally take a bath.  It’s the remedy for my autumn malady:   a pretend rain, filled with the sounds of actual rushing water, spruced up by beeswax candles and fragrant herbs to bathe in.  A little herbal ocean…

Just a few of my favorites are:  redwood needles or passionflower vine, fresh calendula, rose petals, sage.   It is amazing how alive one can feel after slipping into a bath with actual plants floating all around you.  I am so grateful that Kami McBride, my first herbal teacher, encouraged myself and fellow students to experiment with the healing powers of the herbal bath.  I remember her describing this incredible outdoor tub that she had taken in the woods beneath the stars.  As she told her story, the bath became a metaphor for the cosmos, with the immersed human body as galaxy and plant bits as individual floating stars.  It sounded literally out of this world.

While most of us don’t have access to a star-infused setting, the benefits of herbal bathing still run very deep.

I for one feel closer to nature and more aware of my amazing skin suit and the job it has to do.  More importantly, a bath helps me slow down and feel that relaxation can be a state of being, something I am trying to cultivate more of these days.  It helps me remember that within the human body, we contain all the elements of the cosmos.  Even as the winds and rain of autumn whip us around on the outside, we can take comfort in the quiet expanse within.

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What if?

April 10, 2010

What if our religion was each other
If our practice was our life
If prayer, our words
What if our temple was the Earth
The forests were our church
Holy water – the rivers, lakes, and oceans
What if meditation was our relationships
If the teacher was life
If wisdom was self knowledge
If love was the center of our being?
–  Ganga White

Spring feels like a prayer these days

(whatever your version of prayer…).

The  new foliage is simply bursting with a feeling of “let’s do this again…“Let’s do LIFE again this year, this decade, this millenium, this cycle.

On and on.  Endlessly.

Borage blossoms held in loving hands

Speaking of on and on…

The aphids on one of my (client’s) roses were so abundant today–the unopened buds were completely covered.  Brilliantly disguised, the bugs almost exactly matched the color of the leaves.

As I stood there looking at them, admiring the way they were clustered and how well they were feasting, I inevitably started to think about endings.  Death. These aphids could not be much longer for this world (for a series of complex reasons I won’t now go into but which gardeners will understand.  Aphids are a cyclical phenomenon…)

The aphids were going to die, sadly.  They were literally sucking the life out of my rose blooms, and stunted rose blooms look well, less gorgeous.

Lately I must admit to having very mixed feelings about the way I (as a gardener) destroy and create habitat.  I move a pot and a whole clan of Rolly Pollies runs for cover.  Moms and dads and kids.  Then I must sweep…some of the little guys get swept away and join the compost bin.  Some become injured and die.

It doesn’t seem right that I should have so much control over the destiny of another being, and yet this is a part of life’s cycle too.  Even as I advocate for treading lightly and carefully, I don’t believe one can refuse to take a step for fear of crushing the numerous things beneath one’s feet.   Similarly one can’t possibly take into account all the ways our actions contribute to another’s destiny. Life and death must coincide and continue to dance, to give and take.   We are no exception to the rule.  We too will die and our bodies will become soil.

This week I lost a friend.  Her name was Marion.  As her death was so unexpected, it gave many of her friends pause:  we didn’t realize how fully we appreciated her until she was gone.   All our future plans were simply and suddenly wiped away.

I want to say thank you to Marion for making relationships her meditation, her priority, and setting a beautiful example of how well we can love.  She was truly remarkable in this way.  And on goes the cycle…

Love you Marion.